Happy Earth Day: 5 Ways to Save Money And Help the Planet

High fuel prices and Hollywood hype made 2008 the year to “go green”. But we shouldn’t table efforts to reduce our impact on our planet just because the economy has soured. In fact, you can do a lot of things to be green and save green at the same time. In celebration of Earth Day, here are a few suggestions.

  • Stop using paper cups and plastic bottles. Now! Did you know that most paper coffee cups are lined with a non-biodegradable film (so the liquid doesn’t eat through the cup)? Some big coffee chains still use Styrofoam cups…even worse! If you invest in a reusable coffee mug, you’ll stop filling landfills with cups, and you may just save some cash. Starbucks gives you a $0.10 cent discount for bringing your own mug; our favorite local roaster here in Maine gives you $0.25 off. As for bottled water, paying $1.50 for stuff that you can get almost anywhere for free has never made much sense.
  • Unplug stuff. It’s so simple, and yet, I am so bad at it! My fiancée points out that the electricity bill has skyrocketed since I moved in. I’m working on it, I promise. The fact is, most electronics draw electricity even when they’re off. Be vigilant about unplugging things when they’re not in use (from microwaves to cell-phone chargers) and you could save up to $5 a month on your electric bill.
  • Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Although CFL bulbs are more expensive than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, these super-energy efficient bulbs last up to 10 times longer and can save you up to 75% on lighting costs. Now that’s a bright idea! (Sorry; I couldn’t resist.)
  • Buy food locally. Join a local community supported agriculture (CSA) farm and support local farmers while getting fresh, healthy, often organic food for a fraction of the price of the supermarket. (Of course, you’ll have to commit to eating your share of fresh produce to make it cost-effective, but splitting the harvest with a few friends can be an easy solution).
  • Stop printing. Are you an over-printer? Do you print out e-mails? Directions? Articles? Save on pricey printer ink and paper by second-guessing yourself every time you print. Can you read something online or just jot a note down instead?

What are your favorite dual-action environment- and money-saving tips?

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


  1. Happy Earth Day! These tips are great and remind me of a site I saw featured on The Power of Small Blog and Geezeo called “Shift Your Habit”. It offers tips like these on a daily basis with a focus toward finance. I say, if saving the Earth can help me save a buck, I’m all for environmentalism! But, I just can’t get used to the CFL lights– I confess I still use the old kind.

  2. Thanks, Kate! Just saw your blog and loved it. I may be inspired to do a list of great cooking blogs for my readers…as inspiration to stay home and save money, of course!

  3. Hi David! Thanks so much :) I’m so glad you like it. One of these days, very soon I hope, I’ll actually get around to posting some new recipes. My digital camera is loaded with pictures… just a matter of finding the time to write!

  4. While compact fluorescent light bulbs may save you money they contain toxic levels of mercury and so I’m not sure I would recommend these in conjunction with earth day!!!!